Campbelltown Arts Centre has been at the forefront of supporting creative talent throughout Western Sydney. Through its doors have come artists from around the world showcasing their individual style, their concepts, and their art.
In the heart of Sydney’s West, Campbelltown Arts Centre is the perfect place to host an artist as innovative and unique as Campbelltown-raised Candy Bowers. This July, Bowers is presenting her brand-new, wild, and quirky musical theatre production; Sweet Mama.
Proud black international artist Candy Bowers grew up in Campbelltown, attending school in the area and spending much time in the art centre as a retreat.
“I always felt like the gallery was the only place that I felt really seen. as a creative artist and person, I always felt like it was my spiritual homeland,” says Bowers.
“The way my work has been influenced because I came from Western Sydney, it’s just so extraordinary to have a venue in a city that feels like such an awesome place to actually create this work.”
Back for her third exhibition since 2015, Bowers is putting on what she says is either the sanest or the most insane thing she has ever done. Sweet Mama, a musical theatre production about eradicating Type 2 diabetes, or more specifically, a show in which the superhero protagonist Sweet Mama is armed with ancient knowledge, future technology, and excellent dance moves to beat a monster disease from inside her mother’s body.
“As artists we are here to be bold and to provoke and to shake up the system,” Candy says.
Last year, Bowers won a creative grant for artists allowing her to research and build her practice. She chose to begin by researching the medical, scientific, and socio-political nature of the effects of Type 2 diabetes on black and brown people who are disproportionately affected by this disease.
For her, this topic hit close to home. Like many people in Western Sydney who come from a black or brown family, Bowers was classified high-risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Many members from her family are affected by the disease, include her own mother who she had to pause her career to care for.
“I don’t think people understand how debilitating it is, and that the meds only fix some of your problems,” Candy told WEST.
And so, the concoction of scientific research, afro-futuristic music, dance, acting, and comedy was born. When asked why she thought such a unique combination was going to work, Bower’s replied:
“I think I am basically such an outlier that this is normal for me….… I’m writing an R&B ballad from the perspective of the pancreas, and I’m like, that’s quintessential Candy Bowers right there.”
The goal of her performance was to challenge her audience to think about the damaging effects of sugar and unhealthy eating and lifestyle has upon their body. For her audience to consider that this disease can be mitigated and even prevented by healthy habits that are not engrained in their culture.
Through comedy, and songs from diseased organs, Bowers intelligently shows just how horrible this disease is, but also provides a solution.
“You’ve got to be the superhero inside of your body. The best way to predict the future is to create it,” she says.
With the creative assistance of her team, Bowers has developed this perfectly comedic yet incredibly serious show that gets to the heart of the issue. And her team’s talent really shines through.
Head of costume design Ntombi Moyo has an incredible career spanning the globe. Notably, she is the costume designer for Sampa the Great, and has worked with Adele, Beyonce, Megan Thee Stallion and many other global acts.
Christian Biko assisted Bowers to produce an original score inspired by afrobeat, Amapiano, drums and South African folk music. He also works as an international DJ, supporting Mobb Deep, Arrested Development, and Madison Avenue.
And so, the fifty minutes that is Sweet Mama is one of fun, joy, and excitement coupled with a serious message primed to make you think and consider your own health and the health of those in the community.
Proudly presented by Campbelltown Arts Centre